Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25th 2011

(moms note-Geoffrey's English is getting very intermingled with spanish words and will probably only get worse!)
Hola! Well, I have a week with my new compañero. Elder Walker is from Utah, is more or less quiet and a little shy, but has a sweet testimony. He is very easy to get along with, and I am sure I will learn a lot from him. Having a companion who isn´t that talkative and is American is giving me many opportunities to be able to develop my Spanish. However, we are trying to secure that we are teaching with unity.
This weekend, we have two baptisms planned for Leiver and Tere. Leiver is a stud: only needs to get married (and he will on Wednesday). He has had all the teachings, and has really changed his life. His wife was a menos active member of the Church, but now she is coming regularly. Tere has brought us much joy seeing the gospel work in her. She works as a servant-maid person of a family of members here in Yajalon. She is single, has like 40 years, and is a quiet sweet lady. At first, she didn´t like to talk, and she was very shy. Every time we come, she opens up more and more and we can see the gospel helping her overcome past guilt and replace it with hope for the future. She has had a hard life, but I am sure she will be a faithful member of the church after her baptism.
Oh and Yolanda and Leonel, with their son Marcial, all are trying to stop taking Coffee. Yolanda grew up on a coffee farm, and has taken coffee since she was 6 years old. However, we know they will be able to! Marcial has dropped from 20 cups a day to 1 cup a day in the morning.
We are having much success, with many people progressing and going to Church. Our challenge is focusing in on those people that are more ready to draw closer to our Father in Heaven through Baptism.

Cool experience: While we met with a new family that we contacted the day before, I felt the distinct impression to get to know them really well and show interest. With questions and trying to follow that prompting, we soon found out how much this couple had been through. He almost died after a rock smashed his head a few years ago, their son in law passed away from stomach cancer, and a down-syndrome son passed away from meningitis, and their youngest son died less than a year ago from brain cancer. With all of that, they still had a faith in Jesus Christ. I felt the Spirit testify to all of us there, while we taught the Plan of our Heavenly Father, that death is not the end of everything. That there is a life after this; there is a loving plan with a place for all of us in the presence of our Father in Heaven. I felt so grateful that we have a Savior who made that possible.
Much love,
Elder Palmer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19th, 2011

Well, Another transfer has begun! Elder Lopez left me here in Yajalon and Elder Walker came to be my new companion! He seems a little shy, but really a sweet guy with a strong testimony. I am certain we will get along great! Oh, and now instead of hearing ¨guerro!¨ in the streets we will here "guerros!" because now there are two americans in this pueblito in Mexico.
We ate caterpillers (fried) for breakfast the other day. I´m not going to lie, that was kind of weird, but tasted alright. The lime and salt and tortillas helped make it more normal.
In Church on Sunday, our little group had about 20 people--about half of them investigators or nonmembers. We have five people with dates for their baptism and all five arrived at church, so we are stoked about that! There are 3 active families here, and two are on vacation right that makes things a little harder, but still the members are stoked to grow and half the weekly reunions that we are having.
We had a special experience teaching the old couple Yolanda and Leonel. They are so funny and wonderful, and as we taught them the other day we invited them to set a goal for baptism. Yolanda said that she was thinking about asking us that if we didn´t ask her! What a wonderful thing to hear...she really is gaining a testimony and feeling the truthfulness of these things. She and her husband (and hopefully her son--if he can overcome problems with the word of wisdom...alcohol)  will get baptized in two and a half weeks. I can testify of the power of the Spirit, especially from seeing Yolanda change. Even though she is naturally hard and stubborn, we often end our lessons with her praying and us being touched by the sweet spirit that that brings. And her husband, 84 years old, never had really been able to remember what he read in the assignments we left them, but the next time after this he pretty much recounted the first five chapters of 1 Nephi to us! The Lord is working with them and so many more here in Yajalon.
I know that God lives; I know that, in his love and desire for our progress, He sent our Savior Jesus Christ to the world. I am certain that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and only through Him and His teachings will come the sweet peace and security of what is to come. I testify that people can change. Maybe not by themselves, but through the help of our Father in Heaven I testify that they can.
Much love,
Elder Palmer

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11th, 2011

Yajalon has its solicitud (is that word the same in english?) in to be a Branch! We are waiting to hear back. Late on Saturday night, we got a call saying that they wanted us to meet here in Yajalon, which is wonderful news...but we had been preparing all week to go to Ocosingo. I know that the Lord was behind this helping us, because we made a few last minute phone calls to Investigators, and on Sunday morning went and visited a number of our Investigators (including spending over 30 minutes trying to wake up and make Marcial shower--19 year old who goes to bed way too late), and all this led to 10 non members being there in the reunion of the Sacrament Meeting. We had 30 people in all, and 10 non-members--a blessing to see the progress! There really are only 12 active members, about 12-15 inactive members, and a number of investigators. They made assignments for all the different organizations (primary, sunday school, etc.) and called a ¨Grupo Familiar¨ leader (he whom they called has only been a member for 10 months), and later told us that the solicitud for Branch is in and that we should hear back soon. All of this was preparations to become a Branch--and finally they told us that we won´t have to travel to Ocosingo for Church! Thank goodness--sometimes I had butterflies in my stomach when I would promise someone that Church would be a marvelous experience and know that they would be in the back of a pick up or something for an hour and a half both ways. But now, the Lord has blessed Yajalon to have meetings here and to grow into a strong Branch in His restored church.
A few other notes:
-There are a ton of drunk people every evening! I can´t count how many drunk people have contacted us...not counting those that we have contacted! In Spanish they call them, ¨Bolos¨or ¨Borrachos¨.
-I just cut my own if I look funky in any of the photos that would probably be why. No, just kidding, it isnt that bad. I´m learning
-Here in Yajalon, officially the time changed in Mexico (and for us as missionaries) but no one uses the time change! So it is a headache always juggling two different schedules between the people who use it and who don´t.
-We ate a fish the other day that looked like they forgot to gut it or cook it.
-We had a little tremor-earthquake! But we barely felt it...
A couple of Spiritual highlights:
-I think I forgot to include this from a week back or so...but one time walking in the street, this man approached us really weird. We got talking to him, and found out that he had been through a lot. He had killed people, dealt drugs...everything. He asked what he could do to find God. We began to bear testimony, and I felt the sweet assurance that someone like this man could still change. Could accept Christ in his life. Unfortunately, we lost contact with him, because we set up a time to meet at a certain part in a park and he didn´t show up. However, it strengthened and heightened a little bit more of how much God really loves us.
-We had a little family home evening with a few investigators and a few members. We shared the story of the Restoration. As I shared the experience that Joseph Smith had in that dimly lit building, I felt a sweet reassurance that it is real. That Joseph Smith was a prophet, and because of that we have the proper tools--blessings, really--to accomplish our purpose in this life and return with God afterwards.
-In Sacrament meeting, it was Testimony meeting, and with such a small congregation you would think that there would be a ton of gaps. But luckily, no. Almost everyone stood up, and as my companion--Elder Lopez--stood and bore his testimony that we are where the Lord wants us, I felt the Lord´s love for our little congregation. What a blessing it is to be here.
Every day we can see the Lord help us as he places people in our path that we havent been able to find. And wow, just as I typed that, a past contact walked in the Ciber and I just talked with him and we´ll put a time to go visit him...that was kind of cool. But ya, I know that the Lord has his hand lifting and watching out for all of His children.
Much love,
Elder Palmer

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 4th 2011

I just tried to buy stamps to respond to the letters I have, and just so you all know, to write 4 or 5 letters and send them to the States from here costs about the same as a week of food. Unfortunately, I don´t think I will be able to write as fequently as anticipated.
Avocado Popsicles: who knew! They are so flavorful, and a temptation for me and my companion often.
Pozol de Cacao: My favorite! I just drank about one liter of this before writing. It is a drink of water, cacao, and chunks of corn, with sugar, and a few other ingredients. Probably sounds strange. But it is sooo good! You have to shake it almost while you are drinking it to keep the chunks going, but seriously, I am definitely planning on commercializing this in America.
A few random things, but now the important part, the work in Yajalon continues. We had a meeting on Sunday (and Saturday for General Conference) here in Yajalon! We have trouble with internet, and missed the first session of Saturday--unfortunate for some of the investigators there. But the other sessions functioned, and we had all of this in our new ¨Casa de Oración.¨ (which is a house that we meet in for church meetings). I will send photos, but the house is really not very attractive or big. And it doesn´t have electricity or water, or doors on the inside. So, our investigators will definitely have to just rely on the Spirit they feel there to help them join the church. But anyway, conference was great! And we were able to have a number of people come and listen to the Prophet of the Lord! In the last session we were so stoked because we had already talked to a few people that day that said they would come.....but they didn´t come. I sat by the door, glancing out--hoping to see them--but to no avail. I don´t know how, but I don´t ever want to sit in a church meeting again without an investigator there that we can help and explain things to.
We visit with the members during the lunches, and as we talk and try to edify them it is a wonderful experience. It will be a beautiful thing--in a few months or however long it takes--when Yajalon is a Branch. And we can look back, and see the miracle that will have taken place. I know that the Lord is preparing the people in Yajalon. This week, we were told that there was a high priest, inactive, that lived in Yajalon. Why we didn´t know about this before, I don´t know, but he came to Conference, and his wife has developed interest in the Church as well. I know that Benjamin, and so many like him, are being touched by the hand of the Lord to help bring them into His tender care.
In a family home evening (with all the members and some investigators in Yajalon), in the Casa de Oracion, we taught about the worth of souls. I was touched by how much I know God loves every person that was in that room. I could feel his encompassing love, and I know that God loves each one of us.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is our Profet; I know that the Church of Jesus Christ in these days really has been restored.  And be it in New Zealand, Africa, America, or a little town in Mexico, it is true. I know that our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, lives.
Elder Palmer